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Last updated: 30 July 2023

Converting A Conservatory Into An Orangery – What’s Involved?

Are you considering converting your existing conservatory into an orangery? If so, this article will explain in a little more detail about how this can be achieved

The Basics – What Is An Orangery?

This is a quite common question. It is a popular Google or Bing! Search term in fact. Therefore, to help you understand the differences between an orangery and a conservatory we have written this useful article to help you understand the differences.

Why Convert A Conservatory To An Orangery

This is the commonest most question – partially because of peoples’ ‘understanding’ of what a conservatory is; therefore, we need further clarification regarding what an orangery is. At its simplest, the orangery is a structured building with a pitched-paned roof (think of a marquee made of windows) that connects with a sturdy brick or stone base with windows. In a way, it fuses the best of the conservatory and the traditional extension. It is at its core about sunshine maximisation – getting the sunlight whilst protecting one’s selves from the inhospitable British or European climate.

An orangery is partially built by brick and offers a perfect halfway house between a full-blown extension and a conservatory. The build quality if much better than a traditional UPVC conservatory and can be used as a year-round space as the temperature can be regulated much better than in a conservatory. Aesthetically, a well-built orangery is more appealing than most traditional conservatories.

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A Little History

The Italians, during their Renaissance period, started to explore dynamic alternatives to traditional building design and this also mirrored other technological changes in stone-building and glass making developments which allowed for large, glass-windowed buildings to be erected for the first time in history. People could now build property not for survival needs but for aesthetic needs – the orangery was purposefully built for the grandiose and the ornate.

This idea began to spread and the next port of call for orangery development was Holland. The country, during its period of imperial genesis, saw a great splurge of wealth impact the entire nation as public buildings and private homes were being built with a sense of purposeful design that highlighted the aesthetic over the utilitarian. The Dutch orangery became a place that allowed Northern Europeans to grow oranges and other exotic fruits, but this was also connected with a sense of grandiose displays of wealth. Merchants and the wealthy could view these exotic delicacies in spaces designed for grand assemblies.

Structurally, this was also the period in which brick and stone orangeries connected the aesthetic design of the principle home with the orangery itself. It was also designed to maximise sunlight by making sure windows got maximum sunlight whilst walls would be insulated, and windows would have ornate shutters that could help during the colder periods.

The biggest change to the orangery design occurred during the nineteenth century, during Britain’s own imperial age, when flat roofs made way for lantern-style glazed roofs which allowed an even greater influx of sunlight. Thanks to ever-changing glass making technologies, builders and designers in the UK and beyond could develop grandiose spaces with glass roofs – in the UK the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, a gigantic glasshouse, heralded a new era of glass-building in the UK.

The orangery was initially designed as a space for growing exotic fruits in inhospitable climes. However, as food supplies, refrigeration techniques and other food security developments occurred, the need for an orangery to grow exotic fruits waned. The space was therefore repurposed during the twentieth century and smaller less grandiose but nonetheless ornate orangery spaces started appearing in smaller properties. Today, this is what the orangery has come to define.

Planning & Designing Your Orangery – What You Need To Know?

It is possible to undertake a conversion project that would supplant your current conservatory into a grand orangery. This isn’t an easy undertaking. It is a complex project due to the structural differences between the conservatory and the orangery. You will need to follow Building Regulations and engage with your local authority planning guidelines – like knowing if your property is situated within a conservation area or other impediments to your design development.

You will need to engage the services of a surveyor who will undertake a full structural appraisal of your current conservatory and the wider property. This will help determine their feasibility report and therein judgement on whether the planned conversion from a conservatory to orangery falls foul of guidelines and rules.

You will need to hire the services of a professional architect who can help you envisage your orangery design, a project manager to marshal the myriad of professional craftspeople who you will need to help build a professionally-made orangery and finally you will need to make sure you have deep pockets to make sure the development runs smoothly.

The Positives and Negatives of an Orangery Explained

The Orangery – The Positives

  1. The orangery will include a greater distribution of stone or brickwork and this will help to inject a sense of aesthetic continuity as the material will match with the wider property so that the orangery doesn’t automatically look like a new addition to the property.
  2. As stated above, the orangery can be thought of as a third way between a traditional extension and a traditional conservatory. Therefore, orangeries are often more cavernous that conservatories, which along with the famed lantern-style roof, the principle benefit is a constant ray of sunlight sparkling across a great space.
  3. This ‘grand space’ narrative that has come to define the orangery experience also boasts another key benefit and that is its utilitarianism. This new space can home altogether different home-based experiences from a home gym, a home office or even a kid’s playroom.

The Orangery – The Negatives

  • There is an ironic negative to the orangery and that is it is designed to attract sunlight and to have it projected upon a great space. However, large windows within an orangery will not collect the same amount of natural light than a traditional conservatory which will be 80-90 percent glass.
  • The other deterrent is the cost dynamics of an orangery. An updated conservatory could be a more budget-conscious reality than an orangery. Due to its unique makeup of solid walls, lantern roof and large windows, the cost can be huge and more than a new or replacement conservatory roof.

How Much Does An Orangery Cost?

According to Zoopla, the average base cost of an orangery development is around £20,000. They can cost upwards of £100,000 depending on how ornate and luxurious your build quality levels are.

However, it is not impossible to find local suppliers and designers who can build orangeries for around £10-15,000. Shop around but make sure you find a trusted tradesperson – use platforms like GreenMatch.

These prices mean an orangery can cost two or three times the average price of a conservatory installation. However, there are benefits to spending so much money. When you convert your conservatory into an orangery, you can benefit from increased insulation, you can add heating or air conditioning, you can make the room somewhere to utilise in the hottest days of August and the coldest January nights thanks to these benefits.

What About Size For The Perfect Orangery Experience?

When you begin your journey, as you work with your project manager and architect, you will need to evaluate what purpose in which you wish to utilise this new space. You will need to take into account a range of calculations when considering the correct size for your orangery space – including building regulation limits, your garden space and the cost dynamics.

Remember your orangery will need to segue between your home and garden spaces. This is the orangery’s raison d’être. It will be a unique space that connects your garden spaces with your indoor space.

By understanding these dynamics, one can convert a conservatory into an orangery that can help fit perfectly in relation to your home and garden spaces.

As we have noted above, one can undertake the conversion of a tired, old and weather-beaten conservatory and turn it into a unique space that helps to open up your garden spaces and the sunlight available in your home to help make a space that your family can utilise and make lasting memories forever.

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